Five candidates are vying for three seats on the 9-member South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education on November 2, 2021: Shannon Cuttle (incumbent), William Rodriguez, Qawi Telesford, Arun Vadlamani and Kaitlin Wittleder. Terms are for three years. The following candidate statement is from Arun Vadlamani:
Why I’m Running
In software, we have a saying: “If you find a bug in development, it costs $1 to fix; if you find a bug in application, it costs $5; if the customer finds a bug, it costs $10.” The earlier you identify potential problems with a program, the earlier you can fix it before it causes costly damage. The principle expressed here is that this approach is one that I will bring to our Board of Education. I am interested in examining information and finding the areas that need to be changed in order to achieve the desired outcome. This means that as a Board member, I will approach the questions brought to the Board by the superintendent with an eye that is both supportive and intellectually honest. My facility with data and empirical information will allow me to spot “bugs” and recommend creative ways of thinking about issues.
What are the outcomes we as a community are looking for in our public schools? Every child enters our system with unlimited potential. We want our system to develop that potential so that every child can thrive and achieve. We want our system to create opportunities for every student, not barriers. I will examine every policy and proposal with that desired outcome in mind.
Education, especially in America’s public school system, is the pathway that has enabled innumerable families to cross social, economic, and national boundaries to reach their fullest potential and achieve their dreams. I am a strong proponent of a high-quality, relevant public-school education. With both my daughters in the school district, I want to make sure that we continue to offer all children a path to success in whatever they choose to do – academics, athletics, arts, or in creating a whole new field of study. As an immigrant myself, I want to help all parents navigate a sometimes unfamiliar educational system. I also want to simplify the process of getting educational resources to those in need e.g., special education and English as a second language (ESL).
My vision is for our schools to be National Blue Ribbon Schools. These schools not only have the “state’s highest high school graduation rates” but also are “schools that have made the greatest advances in closing subgroup achievement gaps.” We have embarked on the Intentional Integration Initiative to make resources available equally to all students across the school district. This is a good start and it is critical that we execute this program effectively and stay focused on great outcomes for our children.
I love this community, where my family has lived for over 18 years, and I am honored to put myself forward to serve on our BOE. If elected, I hope to round out the board’s collective knowledge with my practical approach to solving problems. I have the conviction, temperament, time, and energy to collaborate professionally with other board members in setting quantifiable objectives for the Superintendent and ensuring that he succeeds.
Arun Vadlamani works at a bank creating algorithms and large-scale trading systems to help clients execute efficiently and reduce trading costs. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the University of Mumbai and did his graduate work in computer engineering at the University of South Carolina. In addition to his work, he has served as a board member for a children’s education-based non-profit, Asha for Education. Arun has been involved in the SOMA community as a volunteer for over ten years. He has been a Girl Scout dad and is proud to claim the title of cookie distribution coordinator for the entire district of over 60 Girl Scout troops. As a parent with both his daughters in SOMSD (high school and middle school), he has volunteered in schools extensively. He has been instrumental in bringing the American Math Challenge 8 to all students of South Orange Middle School and would like to expand the program. He has also volunteered by celebrating math on Pi Day (3/14), astrophysics and light sabers on Star Wars Day (5/4), and computer coding during the Hour of Code events.
Find out more about Arun Vadlamani and his running mate Qawi Telesford at arunqawiboe.com.